26 August 2010

The Royal Scots - 1st & 2nd Battalions - 1881-1914

This post will look at numbering in the two regular battalions of The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) between 1881 and 1914. The regiment was formed on the 1st July 1881 from the 1st, or The Royal Scots Regiment. The regiment was established as the county regiment for Berwickshire, Edinburgh (Midlothian), Haddingtonshire (East Lothian) and Linlithgow (West Lothian). It started numbering from 1 in 1881.

All of these records survive. Findmypast has over 28,000 Royal Scots First World War service records and over 11,000 Royal Scots service records from before the First World War. This latter selection includes officers' records. Clicking on the links will take you to the search results.

Here are the regimental number joining dates for the Royal Scots from 1881.

191 joined on 3rd September 1881
679 joined on 21st October 1882
795 joined on 29th March 1883
1358 joined on 17th January 1884
1840 joined on 7th January 1885
2267 joined on 11th March 1886
2485 joined on 1st January 1887

On 1st May 1887, Berwickshire was transferred to the district administered by the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

2798 joined on 23rd February 1888
3198 joined on 15th January 1889
3499 joined on 20th January 1890
4016 joined on 8th January 1891
4312 joined on 9th March 1892
4820 joined on 3rd July 1893
4998 joined on 9th January 1894
5289 joined on 26th March 1895
5578 joined on 17th February 1896
5891 joined on 11th January 1897
6317 joined on 14th January 1898
6652 joined on 16th January 1899
7020 joined on 3rd January 1900

The Second South African War 1899-1902
During the South African War, 117 men from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Edinburgh (City) Rifle Volunteer Corps served with the Royal Scots in South Africa. The regiment raised three volunteer service companies in all, and on 17th February 1900, the 1st VSC comprising Captain R W Campbell, Lieutenant M W Henderson, Lieutenant R G W Adams and 112 men, embarked aboard SS Gascon for South Africa.

Numbers within the range 8073 to 8185 were issued in early 1900 to men joining the 1st Volunteer Service Company.

Numbers within the range 7169 to 7457 were issued to some 1st VSC men, but primarily to men joining the 2nd VSC (referred for the most part on the Queen’s South Africa medal roll as “M” Volunteer Company). These numbers appear to follow on sequentially from numbers being issued to men joining the Royal Scots as ordinary recruits and do not take cognizance of Army Order 29’s stipulation regarding the “interval of a clear thousand between the last number received by an ordinary recruit, at the date on which the Volunteer numbering begins, and the first Volunteer number.”

Numbers 8186 through to 8297 were all issued in 1900 to men who joined the 3rd Volunteer Service Company.

7369 joined on 15th January 1901
7958 joined on 13th February 1902
8400 joined on 17th January 1903
8777 joined on 4th January 1904
9170 joined on 2nd February 1905
9535 joined on 2nd April 1906
10038 joined on 15th May 1907
10198 joined on 4th January 1908
10457 joined on 7th January 1909
10580 joined on 1st February 1910
10850 joined on 30th January 1911
11024 joined on 2nd January 1912
11346 joined on 1st January 1913
11562 joined on 11th February 1914

The First World War

When Britain went to war in August 1914, men joining the new service battalions were issued with numbers from the same series that had, up until that point, been the sole preserve of the regiment’s two regular battalions.

Recruitment rates 1881-1911

During the first ten years of its existence, the Royal Scots recruited well over 4,000 men, an annual recruitment rate (calculated between July 1881 and January 1891) of 401 men; the fourth best performance in the British Army.

By 1901 however, fourth had turned to twenty-fourth with the regiment adding 3,700 men to the 28th August 1901; an annual average of 348 men per annum.

Recruiting dropped away again in the early 1900s but nevertheless, by 30th January 1911, the regiment was issuing number 10850 to its latest recruit, an annual average of 335 men recruited.


All of the number and joining date information posted here, has been compiled as a result of looking at service records in the WO 363, WO 364 and WO 97 series at the National Archives. The first two series are on-line via Ancestry and Findmypast whilst WO 97 is only available on Findmypast. Both sites continue to be invaluable resources for the military historian.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

Further Reading

The following titles are all available from Naval & Military Press. Descriptions courtesy Naval & Military Press.


Regimental Records of the Royal Scots, the First or Royal Regiment of Foot 1590-1911
This huge history covers the entire early years of the regiment from their garrisoning of Tangier in 1680. The regiment fought in the Duke of Marlborough's four great victories at Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet, the expedition to Louisburg, the retreat to Corunna, the Peninsular war battles of Busaco, Vittoria Salamanca, San Sebastian, and the Nive; the Waterloo campaign, the Crimean War and the Boer War. This book contains all you would expect in such a record: not only detailed accounts of all the campaigns and actions, but officers' rolls, marching songs, regimental crests and insignia, uniform illustrations, and portraits of the regiment's colonels.

Diary of Services of the First Battalion during the Boer War
This brief volume is a battalion history of the 1st Royal Scots' deployment in South Africa. It is illustrated with rare photographs and includes a Roll of Honour and casualty list.

Royal Scots 1914-1919
An impressive history by the author of The History of the 9th (Scottish) Division, also an impressive piece of work. The first chapter in the book is by way of an introduction to all the battalions which constituted the Regiment, the locations of the existing battalions and the creation of all the wartime battalions. In an appendix there is a brief account of all the battalions that remained in the UK, and another deals with the 19th Labour and 1st Garrison Battalion. This leaves the rest of the book devoted to the fifteen front line battalions which, between them, saw service in France and Flanders, Gallipoli, Egypt, Palestine and Macedonia.

The book is arranged on a chronological basis with each chapter covering a specific period of time whether on the Western Front any other front where the Regiment fought (for example there are three chapters on Gallipoli covering that campaign from start to finish), and the fortunes of every battalion involved in that particular period are described. There is no Roll of Honour nor list of Honours and Awards though citations for the seven VC winners form a separate appendix. 825pp and 33pp index.

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